The first of 11 clear rounds came early in the order when France’s Jean Lou Bigot (FR) cleared all of the coloured poles with Utrillo du.
Last year’s Series Champion, Gemma Tattersall (GBR) and “wonder mare” Chico Bella P put in a foot perfect clear round to climb from 8th overnight into 4th going into the Cross Country.
“What an amazing mare she is. She’s such a careful horse who wants to do it for us. She loves the big occasions and she’s having THE best week!” said Gemma after her round.
Crowd favourites, Tim Price (NZL) and Wesko made the up-to height track look easy, continuing their impeccable return to form in the 2nd phase in Jardy. Sitting in 3rd going into the afternoon’s Cross Country, Tim and Wesko lined themselves up for a fairy tale return to competitive Eventing.
With poles falling all around the course, Izzy Taylor took advantage of Karim Florent Laghaoug’s 2 down to climb into 2nd place with a solid clear inside the time on the exuberant Be Touchable.
“He is a very, very good jumper but you always have to be mindful of the time because he spends so long in the air.” Said Izzy
Holding fast at the top going into the Cross Country after a stylish show jumping clear, Britain’s Alex Bragg and Zagreb laid down a formidable challenge for the chasing field.
The achievability of the Jardy CIC3* Cross Country time changes year on year. According to the stats up to 26% of the field have made the time every second year with 0% the rest. This year was set to see the latter but the strength of the ERM field bucked that trend with 8 finishing inside the time.
In an afternoon that saw two of the best Cross Country riders in the world having Sat Nav problems and a fairy tale finish for Tim Price, the jumping proved just as significant as the time here at Jardy.
Leading from the off, British favourites Alex Bragg (GBR) and Zagreb needed a huge personal best in the Dressage, a foot perfect clear in the Show Jumping and a fast, classy clear inside the time across the country – all of which they delivered to take the penultimate Leg of the 2018 Series.
“I am over the moon. I was riding a bit like a demon out there, I really, really wanted it. I can’t believe I was faster than Izzy and Gemma, they are absolute speed queens. Tim is a bit more laid back so I expected to be speedier than him!” Alex commented.
Looking like they’d never been away, the fairy tale continued for Tim Price (NZL) and his returning “best friend” Wesko, who delivered a Cross Country masterclass out on Pierre Michelet’s tough 3* track. Taking 2nd place on the Leg 5 Podium means Tim moves up to 3rd on the all important 2018 Series leader board.
Speaking about his 2nd place finish Tim commented:
“I’ll take that! I was saying to Billy (Levett) I don’t think I’ve had another one like him, it’s so much fun having him back. You don’t know until you know when you bring a horse like him back out at the top levels, but I guess now I know. It all came flooding back out there – he is just so much fun.”
Finishing just 2 seconds over the time after a slight navigation error out on course, Izzy Taylor (GBR) and Be Touchable lived up to their reputation with a classy, fast clear to claim 3rd on the Leg 5 Podium. Gemma Tattersall (GBR) and Chico Bella P couldn’t quite break their run of 4th place finishes in the ERM today when they ended their clear Cross Country round 3 seconds inside the time.
The fastest event rider in the world, Chris Burton (AUS), didn’t disappoint out on course, this time piloting Kate Walls’ 10 year old gelding Cooley Lands. Delivering an incredible clear 9 seconds inside the time despite an identical problem to Izzy Taylor’s, the Australian keeps hold of the top of the Series leader board going into the Finale at Blair Castle in Scotland.
The Event Rider Masters now heads to the final Leg of the 2018 Series at Blair Castle, in Scotland. (25 & 26 August 2018).